The 2016 Stanley Cup Finals started yesterday with the east champion Pittsburgh Penguins taking game 1 from the San Jose Sharks in Pittsburgh. Within a couple weeks, one of these team’s players will find their names engraved on Lord Stanley’s cup while the other team will go home losers. So who should you want to win, the Sharks or the Penguins?
The Sharks are a nice story. They had a ton of regular season success that never seemed to translate into the postseason. This is their franchise’s first Stanley Cup Finals appearance. After so many good seasons, they finally made it this year and they were only a sixth seed.
The Shark’s core of Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, and Patrick Marleau have been together forever. 10 years to be exact. It would be nice to see them attain the ultimate prize after all these years together. If you add in some other key players that have been with the team for 5+ years like Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Tommy Wingels, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and you’ve got a group who have spent a lot of time together. You’d like to see that kind of loyalty rewarded.
Out of all these guys, Marleau and Thornton are who you should really root for. Both 36, they went first and second in the 1997 NHL Draft, and neither has won a championship. That’s 9 All-Star appearances, 858 goals, and zero titles between them. Marleau has been with the Sharks since the beginning too. He’s got 17 years in San Jose. That’s incredible.
The problem is that the Sharks play in the Bay Area, a region that has seen too much sports success lately. The Giants win the World Series every other year, the Warriors are heavy favorites to repeat as champs against the Cavs, and even the 49ers almost won a Super Bowl a few years ago against the Ravens. Do we really want to see another Bay Area champ?
But the alternative is the Penguins. They play in Pittsburgh, home to maybe the most insufferable fanbase in sports in the Steelers. Now should the Penguins be punished for the sins of the Steelers? No, but they have problems of their own.
They have maybe the most talented duo in the sport in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. But they’re like the Jeter and A-Rod of the NHL. They were really good too but were impossible to root for unless you were a fan of the team. And they also only won one title together. They’re perpetual underachievers and now that they’ve overachieved this year are we supposed to be happy for them?
I’ve laid it all out for you. It’s really your choice who to root for now. If your a fan of the other teams though, you won’t be happy either way.